An Afternoon’s Nap by Aurelia Hadley Mohl

Alternate title: Five Hundred Years Ahead

Published: 2013 in Rayguns Over Texas, but originally published in 1865

Genre: time travel short story

Setting: 1865 Texas, and then 2365

Interest: I was provided a copy of the anthology and I’m slowly reviewing all the stories in it. This story was included in the anthology because it is one of the first science fiction stories written by a Texan.

Summary: Mr. John Langschlaf, a bit of a curmudgeon, lays down to take a nap in his garden, and wakes up 500 years later. He’s amazed by all the changes to society, and how wonderful and easy everything has become. Turns out the little boy who disturbed his nap was Progress, and Progress let him see (as in a dream) what he could accomplish.

Final thoughts: I delight in reading what people of 100 years ago or more thought the future would look like. In this case, the author was optimistic and decided in the future, no one would really have to work (just direct the robots) and you could get from one place to another very rapidly if you wanted, or take a more scenic trip if that was your cup of tea. Everything was run off of an invisible substance in the aether, and everyone spent their time learning and making beautiful things. The story didn’t escape from 1800s racism – all the blacks were sent to their own colony, where they were much happier off by themselves and all the white people could stay on Earth in peace.

Title comes from: The main character laid down for an afternoon nap and woke up 500 years in the future.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: The Cold War

Things have been crazy, but we still manage to squeeze in some schoolwork. We had an American History Club meeting on the Cold War. With as important as the Cold War was, and the long time it lasted, there were few historical fiction novels set in that time period for a younger audience that I could find. It wasn’t a total bust – we managed to scrape together two, and they were both excellent.

First off, there was The Apothecary by Maile Meloy. This added a fantastical/magical component to the fears of the Cold War. It is set in England, just after WWII, and you see all fears associated with the Russians and the nuclear bombs, played out in young, teen-aged kids. The book brought up all kinds of discussion point about the Cold War, and kept two nearly teen-aged boys interested in the topic.

The other find was The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman. This book is set in Hollywood, but still in the 1950s so you still get quite a bit about McCarthyism and atom bomb scares. This is aimed at a slightly younger audience (which was perfect, since it was read by a couple of just about 10-year old girls). You also see some strong character growth and development in speaking up for wrong things. The ending doesn’t wrap all the plot lines into a neat little bow, which lead to some discussion of “What do YOU think happened?”

We’ve used some other books recently, but I want to keep this post thematic. Linking up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly-Wrap-UpIf you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher

Published: 2015

Genre: fiction

Length: 301 pages

Font: Electra

Setting: Ocean City, New Jersey, 2012 (around the time Hurricane Sandy hit)

Interest: It was one of the spring picks for the She Reads blog network (so I got a review copy, but my opinions are all my own) Continue reading

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Environmental Issues book

I’m trying to find a popular science book to use for my Environmental Studies class I’m teaching in the fall. In the past, I’ve used The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunslter, and The Little Earth Book, by James Bruges. The only problem is The Little Earth Book is now out of print, and a bit out of date. So, I’m looking for a new book to replace it. Essentially, what I want is a collection of essays on different environmental topics to spark discussion in the class. The Little Earth Book had short, two-page essays. I’m open to longer writings, but I want a variety of topics. It seems the book I’m looking for is rather difficult to find, though. I looked at several possibilities before I found what I wanted.

First I looked at American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, edited by Bill McKibben. The subtitle made it sound promising, but it didn’t deliver. Problem number one, the book is 900 pages long! That’ll scare off any student, even if I only used parts of it. It also tended to include excerpts of larger works that relate to environmental issues, instead of writings specifically about environmental issues. Not what I’m looking for.

Ok, how about Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman? It’s billed as a YA nonfiction book, which might work for an introductory science course where no one has background on the topic. However, it’s a bit too flashy for me and doesn’t really cover the breadth of topics I’m looking for. It seems to introduce the idea of greenwashing and paying attention to what’s really happening in the environment, but once again, not what I’m looking for.

All right, how about Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester R. Brown? There have been three other Plan B books, with revisions every few years to update progress in improving the environment. This one was published in 2009, so it’s recent enough to accurately reflect the current science. It addresses many of the pressing environmental problems and then proceeds to provide potential solutions to those problems. I’m definitely interested in this book, but more to replace The Long Emergency. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to read this book and see if it will work for the class before I have to make textbook decisions, but I’m still going to read it for future reference. If you’re interested, the Earth Policy Institute provides a free pdf of the book at their website. So, looks good, but not a series of essays so still not what I need for the coming semester.

Finally, I found the book I was looking for: Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues by Thomas A. Easton. This is exactly what I want, although since it’s printed by a textbook company, it’s a bit more expensive than I was hoping for. However, it provides a brief summary of an environmental issue, an excerpt from primary literature in both the pro and con position, and a summary. It also covers a wide variety of environmental issues and is designed to encourage debate, critical thinking, and discussion in the classroom. Perfect! Just what I was looking for! I was starting to get worried I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for, but my diligence paid off. I have my second book choice for the semester.

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the books yourself, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Published: 2012

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 470 pages

Setting: Italy and American, early 1900s

Interest: It was chosen for book club Continue reading

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Quietness on the Blog

Sorry I’ve been AWOL on the blog this past week, but real life has been quite busy lately. Last weekend was my daughter’s last meet of the year (she qualified for states and had a solid meet, even if she didn’t get any medals). That was followed by a solid week of rehearsals for some local theater. I’m the accompanist and I had 15 songs and about 100 pages of music to learn. We put the show together in a about a month, and this last week of rehearsals have been intense. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted and still have to prep for my college class and teaching my kids the next day. Needless to say, I’m down to essentials this week and as much as I love the blog, it’s not essential. I should be back to regular posting next week since tonight is our first performance and we don’t practice at all next week. See you then!

This is the backdrop for our "Salute to America" show

This is the backdrop for our “Salute to America” show

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Sundiver by David Brin

Published: 1980

Genre: science fiction

Length: 340 pages

Setting: near future, Earth and Mercury

Interest: It’s the first book in the Uplift series. I read the series long ago, and I’ve decided to revisit some of my favorite books and series. This year, I’m trying to reread all of Brin’s Uplift books (it was brought to mind by reading Existence). Continue reading

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